MORE than 5,000 foreign criminals were identified in less than a year after Police Scotland improved intelligence sharing with Europol.
A report released yesterday by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary in Scotland (HMICS) found there had been a 400 per cent increase in information shared with the European force since the creation of Police Scotland in April 2013.
The inspection of intelligence services highlighted the case of a Bulgarian stopped in Edinburgh for a traffic offence who turned out to have a criminal past including gross indecency with a child, rape and attempted rape. He was arrested and is currently being deported from the UK.
Police Scotland has merged the intelligence units from the former eight Scottish forces into a single National Intelligence Bureau (NIB).
The inspectorate found that NIB’s international assistance unit (IAU) had raised awareness of Operation Nexus, which targets foreign nationals committing crime in Scotland, leading to the identification and deportation of a number of people.
The action also helped identify a shoplifter from Poland who had been charged with multiple shoplifting offences, breach of the peace and assaults in Aberdeen. He was removed from the UK. The report said: “We established that the IAU had raised awareness across all 14 divisions of Operation Nexus and we found evidence of effective joint working.
“Four dedicated officers from the IAU work alongside an embedded officer from Home Office Immigration Enforcement (HOIE) supporting the process of checks to establish whether a foreign national arrested in Scotland is wanted oversees, has previous convictions or is present in the country illegally.
“Between May and December 2014, 5,425 foreign national offenders were reported by custody division highlighting the engagement between police officers and foreign national offenders in Scotland.”
HMICS carried out an inspection of the National Intelligence Bureau and the divisional intelligence unit in Ayrshire. Police Scotland is to roll out a new intelligence structure, broadly based on the Ayrshire unit, this year after a national review.
The report praised the work of the Scottish Crime Campus at Gartcosh, North Lanarkshire, and found the force’s new joint intelligence development unit has helped target people involved in serious organised crime, but also warned of inconsistencies and inefficiencies across the country.
It also highlighted frustrations within the force caused by a reduction in police staff numbers, leading to “differing levels of morale” across the country.
Derek Penman, HM Inspector of Constabulary in Scotland, said: “Criminals do not respect borders and the creation of a single police service in Scotland has led to improved levels of information-sharing and close working with other crime enforcement agencies across the UK and abroad.
“There is evidence of good work at divisional and national level in relation to oversight of serious organised crime and intelligence.”
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